Zimbabwe eases tourist travel

Zimbabwe eases tourist travel
Published: 18 January 2018
MINISTER of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Prisca Mupfumira, says her ministry is planning to establish a National Tourism Facilitation Committee to deal with travel impediments such as police roadblocks.

Speaking at a meeting with tourism stakeholders after the unveiling of a Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe tourism support facility last week, Mupfumira said the image of the country as a tourist destination needed to be attractive to increase arrivals and foreign currency earnings.

There was concern over the high number of police roadblocks on the country's roads before the military briefly took over traffic enforcement on the major highways in November last year. Many tourism players said the roadblocks undermined the Zimbabwe brand.

Some tourists had indicated that they were unlikely to recommend Zimbabwe to potential visitors because of the roadblocks. Police officers manning the roadblocks faced frequent charges of corrupt conduct.

However, the roadblocks have disappeared following former President Robert Mugabe's resignation last November, which was followed by the retirement of police chief Augustine Chihuri.

In February last year, a Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency visitor exit survey indicated that police harassment constituted the highest percentage of reasons why tourists who visited the country would not recommend the country. The disgruntled visitors constituted 43,2 percent of interviewees.

Harassment by Zimbabwe Revenue Authority officers constituted 14,7 percent and harassment by Immigration officials was at 8,7 percent.

"(The) Ministry will push for the establishment of a National Tourism Facilitation Committee, whose main aim will be to deal with impediments to travel. As you are all aware, in the past the nation had to deal with the incessant cry of harassment of tourists at police roadblocks," she said.

Mupfumira thanked the minister in charge of police for dealing with the problem of roadblocks.

"However, beyond this challenge, we have many other challenges we ought to be engaging on. For example, the present viability of foreign airlines is threatened by money, in excess of $50 million which they are failing to remit back to their countries. This is just, but one of the several facilitation issues we will be dealing with," Mupfumira said.

"Tourism is no doubt a key economic sector that has the potential to contribute towards economic growth. In Zimbabwe, the tourism sector is an acknowledged economic pillar that has registered significant growth from being a mere $200 million economy in 2009 to an estimated billion dollar industry that it is today," she said.

The tourism sector contributes 12 percent to gross domestic product and is a key economic driver.

"Equally, the volume of tourism traffic into Zimbabwe has improved from 1,7 million in 2012 to 2,1 million in 2016, and by the end of 2018 we are positive that we will receive 2,5 million tourist arrivals," Mupfumira said.
- fingaz
Tags: Tourism,


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